October 29, 2006
The Rutland Herald
By Dennis Jensen Staff Writer
A year after Kermit Spaulding was charged with baiting deer, the
state's attorney prosecuting the case is offering the former state
senator and present sergeant at arms at the Statehouse a chance to plead
to a lesser charge.
Spaulding was charged by a Vermont game warden last October for
baiting deer in Stowe during bow season.
Three years ago, Spaulding resigned his position on the Vermont Fish
& Wildlife Board after pleading guilty to shooting at a deer decoy from
Spaulding, 70, was cited by game warden Dennis Reinhardt on both
Lamoille County State's Attorney Joel Page said Spaulding's case
could be resolved soon.
"It's on for jury draw on Oct. 31, but I anticipate he'll be pleading
to an offense of feeding deer before that date," Page said in an
interview. "We are hopeful of arriving at a resolution."
Page said the state decided to dismiss the charge of baiting deer if
Spaulding pleads guilty or no contest to the lesser charge of feeding
The feeding deer charge is "virtually the same charge, but for Mr.
Spaulding the baiting deer has a three-year license suspension," Page
said. If Spaulding pleads to the feeding deer charge, he would lose his
right to hunt, fish and trap in Vermont for two years.
Page said the state made the offer for Spaulding to plead to the
lesser charge because the state would have to prove "whether there was
intent to try to shoot a deer as part of baiting or whether it was the
traditional practice of feeding deer."
The state Fish & Wildlife Board instituted a ban on feeding and
baiting deer early in 2005.
Spaulding, a Stowe resident, could not be reached at home or at the
Statehouse. Elected to the sergeant at arms post by legislators in 1997,
Spaulding maintained that his first serious fish and wildlife offense
was an isolated incident.
"I did it," he said. "Fifty years of community service, 60 years of
hunting and one dumb moment."
After the latest offense, several lawmakers said that if Spaulding is
guilty of the second offense and does not resign his post, they would be
forced to look into the matter. The sergeant at arms runs the Statehouse
and oversees its staff.
"Kermit has some explaining to do about his hunting practices," said
Senate Pro Tem Peter Welch, D-Windsor, and a candidate for the U.S.
Welch could not be reached for comment on the latest developments.
House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho, described the allegation
against Spaulding as "serious" and said last year that the joint House
and Senate Rules Committee would discuss the issue.
"It is not OK to either not be aware of the rules or violate them,"
Symington could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Gov. James Douglas said Friday that Spaulding is employed by the
Legislature, so it is not his place to call for his resignation or to
discipline the sergeant at arms.
Still, Douglas said that he found it troubling when public officials
break the law.
"Every Vermonter and every visitor to our state is responsible for
adhering to all the laws of Vermont, whether it's fishing and trapping
or any other statutes the Legislature has passed," he said. "That
certainly applies to public officials who have a public trust."
Page said that it was not unusual for a case like Spaulding's to be
delayed for as long as it has.
"This problem is it's basically a ticket case and a low priority," he
said. "Cases like this tend to get bumped so more serious cases can get
If Spaulding decides to pursue a jury trial, his case will probably
be heard sometime in November, Page said.
Spaulding pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on charges of
baiting deer last December.
Contact Dennis Jensen at